• 36°

Final seconds cruel to SHS

TYRO — West Davidson’s boys have been down this road before.

This time, they blew right through the stop sign.

With their season hanging in the balance, Tyler Grooms sank a pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds left to carry the Dragons to a 54-53 victory over Salisbury in the regular-season finale for both teams Tuesday night on Crim Court. Salisbury had a shot to rip West’s collective heart out at the buzzer, but Nick Brown’s shot from the elbow at the buzzer was off the mark.

With the win, West moved to 4-6 in the CCC and salvaged a three-way tie for third place with the Hornets and Thomasville. Because the conference tournament was put on ice by last week’s wintry weather, the Dragons, Hornets and Bulldogs will have to fight it out amongst themselves the next two nights at Lexington — the host of what was supposed to be the CCC tournament. West will play Thomasville — the Dragons’ third game in three nights — at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winner of that game will play Salisbury on Thursday. The winner of Thursday’s game will get the CCC’s No. 3 seed for the 2-A state playoffs, which open Monday.

Suddenly, the script for West’s season was flipped against Salisbury. The Dragons had let late lead after late lead slip through their fingertips this season, and Tuesday looked like a carbon copy of those games. West was in complete control throughout the first three quarters, leading 38-31 heading to the fourth. But Salisbury rallied to take a 51-45 lead with 1:47 to play; this time, the Dragons simply refused to lose. “I knew we were tired, and I knew they were gonna come back,” West coach Derrick Stokes said. “Now I didn’t know they were gonna take the lead.

“But at the end of the game, just like the last time against Salisbury (a 56-53 Hornets win on a 3 at the buzzer Jan. 24), they focused and executed almost perfectly. Fouling the right people, getting in the right defense. They ran a play I drew up in two seconds, and they ran it like they’d been running it all year.”

For three quarters, that was how the game went. Zach Queen, Grooms and Carson Beane all connected from long distance early to take a 15-10 lead after one. That lead swelled to 23-13 on Justin Bennett’s bucket midway through the second, and Beane ignited the home crowd with a 30-footer at the buzzer to send West to the locker room with a 28-19 cushion.

Queen, playing his last home game on West’s senior night, followed suit with a 30-footer of his own to end the third and put West in front 38-31 after three. Everyone in the place — except Salisbury — thought it simply had to be West’s night.

• • •

West Davidson’s girls’ season came to a merciful end with a 69-36 loss to Salisbury in Tyro on Tuesday.

The Dragons finished with a 1-21 overall record, 0-10 in the CCC.

Janeice Leonard led the Dragons with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

Neither West nor Salisbury, which finished fifth in the league standings at 7-17 overall, 2-8 in the league, will participate in the CCC tournament.

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